Psoriasis-a difficult skin disease that causes red, dry patches of thickened skin on various parts of the body-affects not only appearance, but confidence. In fact, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation, psoriasis affects people socially, emotionally, and professionally, with links between psoriasis and depression and even thoughts of suicide.1 Check out just a few of these devastating figures gathered from the foundation’s surveys:
• 73 percent feel self-conscious about their psoriasis.
• 65 percent said it makes them look unsightly.
• 41 percent change their clothes to hide it.
• 71 percent said they feel helpless to make changes.
• 56 said it interferes with their ability to enjoy life.
I read this and my heart just breaks.
I hope those of you who suffer from this disease will write in and share your stories and tips. In the meantime, I have gathered some helpful coping techniques. I know this condition can be very discouraging, but try not to give up in your search for solutions. The only one who can make you feel better is you!
1. Be kind to yourself. Sometimes a condition like psoriasis can cause us to turn our anger and frustrations back on ourselves. Remember that you did nothing to cause the condition, and you are not at fault. Let me repeat this one, as it’s the most important one-be loving towards yourself.
2. Accept your feelings. Whatever they are, they are normal. Other people with your condition are probably feeling the same thing. Try coping techniques like journaling, music therapy, and counseling. Take your feelings seriously-you’re dealing with a difficult situation. Resist the urge to stuff them down or ignore them. Instead, honor them and learn how to effectively process them.
3. Ask for help. Talk to a trusted friend or a psychiatrist. The National Psoriasis Foundation offers local support groups and online message boards and chats. They also hold regular conferences. Don’t feel you have to deal with this all by yourself. You’re not alone, and when you connect with others going through the same thing, it can feel like such a relief!
4. Don’t let it stop you. Celebrity and actor Jon Lovitz suffers from psoriasis. “It was embarrassing, painful and emotionally difficult to deal with,” he said during a national awareness campaign. “Finally, I got serious and worked with a dermatologist to find an effective treatment.”2
5. Learn to relax. Stress can aggravate psoriasis, so try yoga, meditation, regular exercise, deep-breathing techniques and other stress-relieving options.
6. Find a physician experienced with psoriasis. If you’re not getting satisfactory answers, try someone else. There are several doctors out there who are very interested in helping you to feel better. Don’t settle for anything less.
7. When people react, explain your condition. A lot of people are poorly educated about psoriasis. Try not to take it personally. Explain that the condition is not contagious, and be willing to answer questions. If people find you open and willing to talk, they’re more likely to be willing to understand.
Have you struggled with the emotional effects of psoriasis? Please share your story.
- Report on the Psycho-Social Impacts of Psoriasis. The National Psoriasis Foundation. http://www.psoriasis.org/NetCommunity/Document.Doc?id=619.
- John Lovitz Reveals Decade-Long Battle with Psoriasis in National Awareness Campaign Are You Serious? December 1, 2010. http://www.jnj.com/connect/news/all/jon-lovitz-reveals-decade-long-battle-with-psoriasis-in-national-awareness-campaign-are-you-serious.
Photo courtesy the mloberg via Flickr.com.